/leg"yoohm, li gyoohm"/, n.1. any plant of the legume family, esp. those used for feed, food, or as a soil-improving crop.2. the pod or seed vessel of such a plant.3. any table vegetable of the legume family.[1670-80; < F légume vegetable < L legumen pulse, a leguminous plant, deriv. of legere to gather]
* * *Any of about 18,000 species in about 650 genera of flowering plants that make up the order Fabales, consisting of the single family Leguminosae, or Fabaceae (the pea family).The term also refers to their characteristic fruit, also called a pod. Legumes are widespread on all habitable continents. Leaves of many members appear feathery, and flowers are almost universally showy. In economic importance, this order is surpassed only by the grass and sedge order (Cyperales). In the production of food, the legume family is the most important of any family. The pods are part of the diet of nearly all humans and supply most dietary protein in regions of high population density. In addition, legumes perform the invaluable act of nitrogen fixation. Because they contain many of the essential amino acids, legume seeds can balance the deficiencies of cereal protein. Legumes also provide edible oils, gums, fibers, and raw material for plastics, and some are ornamentals. Included in this family are acacia, alfalfa, beans, broom, carob, clover, cowpea, lupine, mimosa, peas, peanuts, soybeans, tamarind, and vetch.
* * *▪ plant reproductive bodyalso called podfruit of plants of the order Fabales (q.v.), consisting of the single family Leguminosae, or Fabaceae (peas, beans, vetch, and so on). The dry fruit releases its seeds by splitting open along two seams. Legumes furnish food for humans and animals and provide edible oils, fibres, and raw material for plastics. Nutritionally, they are high in protein and contain many of the essential amino acids. For important members of the family Fabales, see alfalfa; bean; broom; clover; cowpea; pea; peanut; soybean; vetch.
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